Martin Stern serves both as the Firm’s Appellate Team Leader and Firm Claims Counsel. As Claims Counsel, Martin essentially acts as the Firm’s General Counsel.
Martin’s practice is increasingly concentrated in appellate litigation, but he also has an extensive background in complex litigation, particularly class actions. Martin also has substantial experience in legal ethics, having represented judges before the Louisiana State Judiciary Commission, as well as lawyers before the Louisiana State Disciplinary Board, for which he formerly served as Hearing Committee Chair.
In the appellate arena, Martin is among the first group of lawyers, only six statewide, to be certified by the Louisiana Board of Legal Specialization as Appellate Practice Specialists. Martin’s appellate practice is deep and varied, ranging from representing a major oil-and-gas company in the appeal of a $1 billion punitive damage award to representing a defendant sentenced to death, both of which resulted in grants of certiorari by the United States Supreme Court. In the latter, Kennedy v. Louisiana, 554 U.S. 407 (2008), the United States Supreme Court announced its landmark holding that the death penalty is unconstitutional for most non-homicide crimes.
Most recently, Martin argued the motion to dismiss and the resulting appeal in Bd. of Comm'rs v. Tenn. Gas Pipeline Co., 850 F.3d 714 (5th Cir. 2017). This lawsuit against nearly 100 oil and gas companies was the subject of a New York Times Magazine article entitled, “The Most Ambitious Environmental Lawsuit Ever.” The plaintiff, a government entity, asserted that defendants were liable for coastal erosion and, as a result, billions of dollars in damages. Defendants won a complete dismissal, which was affirmed by the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Martin also argued Caldwell v. Janssen Pharmaceutical, 144 So. 3d 898 (La. 2014), winning reversal of a $337 million award from the Louisiana Supreme Court in its first case on the Medical Assistance Program Integrity Law (MAPIL), the law frequently invoked by the Louisiana Attorney General against pharmaceutical companies. Previously, Martin defended a major tobacco company against another high-profile suit brought by the Louisiana Attorney General.
Martin has successfully argued appeals to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA). And at the trial court level, Martin led the successful effort to defeat class certification of thousands of individuals claiming exposure to naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM), and then he argued the appeal, winning affirmance. Pollard v. Alpha Tech., 31 So. 3d 576 (La. App. 4 Cir. 2010).
Martin has a strong interest in pro bono representation. He is past director of both national and Louisiana Appleseed, a nonprofit organization that attacks injustice at its root cause—what The American Lawyer called “pro bono’s new frontier.” Martin received national Appleseed’s Evelyn Singer Award and was named to “Leadership in Law” by New Orleans CityBusiness for spearheading the reestablishment of Louisiana Appleseed after Hurricane Katrina. In 2016, Martin received both Louisiana Appleseed’s Good Apple Award and the Louisiana State Bar Association’s Catherine D. Kimball Award for a project culminating in the Louisiana Supreme Court’s adoption of a rule that allows lawyers to earn CLE credit for pro bono representation.